The ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup is an international cricket tournament organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and is contested by national under-19 cricket teams. The 2020 edition is all set to get underway this week, on January 17th, and will end on 9th February. 16 nations will be contesting the biennial extravaganza, with youthful stars looking to make their names known and voices heard all across the world.
Here is all you need to know about the tournament-
The Under-19 World Cup was first staged in 1988 as the Youth World Cup, and after a 10-year hiatus, the tournament returned in its current present day form and has been held every two years since 1998. This will be the 13th edition of the tournament, to be hosted by South Africa, for the second time. India are both the defending champions and the most successful nation in the history of the competition, having won it a record four times, while Australia has won thrice, Pakistan twice and England, South Africa, and the West Indies once each.
The top eleven full members of the ICC at the 2018 World Cup qualified automatically for the 2020 tournament; Ireland were the only full member to fail to qualify automatically. They were joined by the winners of the five regional qualification tournaments, which were played among fifty teams in the qualification pathway matches during 2018 and 2019. The first qualification matches took place in the Europe Division 2 group, in Essex, England, in July 2018, while the final round of qualification fixtures took place in the Netherlands in July and August 2019. Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe were the automatic qualifiers, later joined by the five regional qualifiers Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Scotland and the UAE.
The sixteen teams taking part in the tournament will be split into four groups of four. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Super League, with the bottom two teams in each group progressing to the Plate League. The Group stages were confirmed by the ICC on 24th October, 2019 as-
Group A: India, Japan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Group B: Australia, England, Nigeria and West Indies.
Group C: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Scotland and Zimbabwe.
Group D: Afghanistan, Canada, South Africa and UAE.
South Africa will be the host nation for the tournament, with matches to be played across a total of eight stadiums. These include Willowmoore Park in Benoni, Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein and the Diamond Oval in Kimberley. The final shall be played at JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom.
On 7 January 2020, the ICC appointed the officials for the tournament, which included match referees Graeme Labrooy, Shaid Wadvalla and Phil Whitticase, along with the sixteen umpires named as officiators of the matches.
The tournament promises to be another year of young, hungry, talented cricketers putting everything on the line to get their international senior professional careers kick-started. Virat Kohli of India, Kane Williamson, captain of New Zealand and Steve Smith of Australia are just a few of the stellar names who began their decorated careers after eye catching performances at the U19 level. In only the last edition held in New Zealand, Prithvi Shaw, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Shaheen Shah Afridi, were a few names who put in crucial performances for their sides, and have already started proving their worth in international cricket.
Check the ICC Cricket U19 World Cup 2020: Check here